How do I lose 5-25lbs fast? If you’re one of the many women who have ever pondered this, or similar questions, listen up! The answer is simple – food! Too many people think you can outdo a bad diet with exercise, but it’s just not the case. Sure, exercise is important, but food is your fuel and just like a car, if you put rubbish in, you’re going to get rubbish out.
The first step is simply becoming more aware of what you’re eating. Do a seven day food diary (seriously, try it). You’ll quickly find your food intake doesn’t look nearly as impressive as you first thought it was. This will also give you a starting point.
Don’t feel too guilty, though, if you’ve fallen into a cycle of dieting days and indulgent binges. It’s easy when you’re stressed, tired and reaching for the easiest meal just to get through the day. This isn’t about diet shaming! After reading this article, you’ll know how to eat right in no time.
#1. It’s calories that count!
When weight loss is the goal, calories count. You can make your diet as healthy as you like and eat all the right things (and you should!), but if you’re consuming more energy (calories) than you’re burning off, you’re not going to lose weight.
What’s your target weight (lbs)? Add a zero to that number and that’s (approximately) how many calories you should be eating each day.
You’ve probably heard that eating small, frequent meals is the secret to losing weight. In fact, new research has found that women burned the same amount of calories each day whether they ate five small meals or two large meals.
So don’t over-complicate things or get caught up with eating every couple of hours. While this can help with hunger and energy, it’s the total number of calories you consume daily that count toward your weight loss goals. Now we’ve cleared that up, it’s time to take action!
#3. Get an ‘egg-celent’ start!
Hands off the snooze button! After fasting all night, it’s time to wake up your body and fire-up your fat burning metabolism with a healthy, belly-busting breakfast. But instead of reaching for a nutritionally bankrupt bagel, croissant, waffle or bowl of frosted-flakes, go for eggs – whatever your style.
They’re loaded with high-quality proteins which help to keep you on-the-ball and feeling fuller for longer. Add in a slice or two of whole-grain toast for a dose of slow-digesting carbohydrates and you’ll fuel your morning activity and fend off any afternoon sleepiness.
Yogurts are also great, you get a sustained hit of low GI energy to keep you going well into the morning and slip in some essential bone-building calcium too. Opt for the low-fat or natural versions and sweeten them with fresh fruit and honey.
Perfect balance: For breakfast always aim to eat a protein-rich food, like eggs, with a whole grain Low-GI carbohydrate like grained bread or breakfast cereal (oatmeal/muesli).
An ideal breakfast should keep you feeling full for about 2-3hrs, so if you’re getting hungry after an hour, boost your protein intake. If you’re not getting hungry until lunch time, that’s the signal to tone it down.
Are juices OK? If you keep in mind that it takes 3-4 oranges to make that glass of orange juice, that’s a lot of energy that most of us simply don’t need. Instead, stick to veggie juices, like tomato. They’re lower in energy and packed with essential nutrients.
Another option is to whip up a smoothie. Load up your blender with low-fat milk/yogurt & fruit/berries and you’ve got a filling, waistline-friendly snack to go in under 2 minutes!
#2. Know your enemy!
Cutting out excess sugar is the easiest way to lose weight (and keep it off), but did you know the average woman gets nearly 15% of her total daily kilojoules from added sugars found in processed foods (high fructose corn syrup), soft drinks and alcohol. Sure, the sweet stuff may taste good, but too much has been shown to increase belly fat (muffin top – eek!), not to mention the risk of chronic diseases including obesity, tooth decay and diabetes.
The World Health Organization has recommended limiting sugar intake to only 6 teaspoons or less a day – including natural sugars found in fruit. Not sure how much is too much? Well, a single can of soft drink delivers about 10 teaspoons (that’s right, ten!) of sugar, while one table-spoon of tomato sauce contains a surprising one teaspoon of sugar. Make sure you go easy on the sweet treats, read food labels, and keep a close eye on sauces, cereals flavoured yogurt and juice to stay on the safe side.
#4. Keep smart snacks on-hand!
If your willpower seems to wither at work, you’re not alone. Research has shown that most of us can’t resist joining our colleagues for a snack – not good news if you’re constantly being tempted by unhealthy treats.
During the day snack on a nut bar or cheese and crackers to stop the cravings, and avoid having anything sweet until after dinner. Also, try and eat salad or veggies with some lean protein at both lunch and dinner. This will keep you full and your digestive system healthy. Here’s a few nutritious 400 – 500kj snacks ideas:
- 30 Pistachio nuts = 448kj
- 1/2 cup of blueberries with a dollop of natural yogurt = 445kj
- A hard boiled egg on slice (20mg) of pumpernickel bread = 434kj
- 3 baby carrots and 2 tbsp (40g) hummus = 427kj
#5. Try this 7 day meal plan
With the 7-day plan below each day gives you 3 main meals and a couple of healthy snacks that deliver just 1,500 calories total. Follow it and you can lose up to 2lbs per week.
Based on your individual caloric needs, simply add or subtract foods from the plan until you reach your daily energy requirements to lose weight. Use our list of the top 25 fat burning foods for women to help boost your calorie intake if you get hungry or need to make food substitutions.
Breakfast: 40g whole grain cereal with 125ml skim milk. Topped with 150g low-fat vanilla yogurt and 1/2 cup each of sliced strawberries and blackberries.
Lunch: 2 slices wholemeal bread, with 1 Tbsp avocado, 150g can pink salmon and 6 baby spinach leaves, plus 1 mango.
Dinner: 4 French trimmed lamb cutlets, rubbed with garlic and barbecued. Serve with 1/2 cup couscous and a salad (1 tomato, 1/2 diced cucumber, 1 Tbsp parsley, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp vinegar and 1/2 tsp honey whole grain mustard.
Snacks: 1/4 mixed, unsalted nuts. 200ml glass of skim milk. Black or green tea. Water – aim to drink at least 1.5 liters daily.
Breakfast: 40g whole grain cereal with 125ml skim milk and a small banana. Plus 1 orange.
Lunch: 1 wholemeal flat bread filled with 50g extra-light ricotta cheese, 90g lean roast beef, 1/4 grated carrot, 6 baby spinach leaves and 1 tsp corn relish. Plus 1 brown pear.
Dinner: 150g salmon fillet served with 1 medium sweet potato baked in foil(with 1.2 tsp margarine), 5 asparagus spears and 1/2 large red capsicum (both barbecued).
Snacks: 1/4 cup raspberries, mixed through 100g low-fat custard. Black or green tea. Water – aim to drink at least 1.5 liters daily.
Breakfast: 1 wholemeal flat bread, toasted and filled with 3 Tbsp extra light (<5% fat) cream cheese. Serve with 1 small mashed banana and 20g whole grain cereal. Plus 1 orange.
Lunch: 3 thin corn crispbreads spread with 3 tsp avocado. 3 crispbread toppings (1). 1 slice reduced fat cheese. (2). 2 slices tomato and cracked pepper. (3). 1 slice roast turkey. Plus 20 red grapes and 200g low-fat yogurt.
Dinner: Chicken pesto pasta (200g cooked chicken breast, 2 Tbsp basil pesto, 1/4 cup frozen peas, 1 cup cooked wholemeal pasta, 1/2 Tbsp grated Parmesan). 1 cup green salad (lettuce, green capsicum, snow peas, cucumber and avocado) and dressing (1 tsp gape-seed oil, 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar.
Snacks: 200ml skim milk hot chocolate (made with raw cocoa powder). Water – aim to drink at least 1.5 liters daily.
Breakfast: 40g whole grain cereal with 125ml skim milk. Topped with 1/2 cup stewed apples and cinnamon.
Lunch: 1 wholemeal bread roll with 1 Tbsp avocado, 40g roast turkey, 1 slice reduced-fat (<10% fat) cheese and 2 tsp of cranberry sauce. Plus 1 cup sliced strawberries.
Dinner: Lean beef and vegetable stir fry (150g lean beef fillet with 1 tsp rice bran oil, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp ginger, 2 Tbsp oyster sauce and 1/2 a cup each of broccoli, carrot, mushrooms, red capsicum and snow peas). Serve with 3/4 cup cooked brown rice.
Snacks: 250ml skim milk with 250g MILO, 1 mandarin. Water – aim to drink at least 1.5 liters daily.
Breakfast: 1/2 cup porridge made with skim-milk, topped with 1 Tbsp Chia seeds and 1 tsp brown sugar. Plus watermelon, grape and berry fruit smoothie.
Lunch: 1 wholemeal bread roll with 2 Tbsp hummus, 60g trim lamb fillet, 1/2 cup tabbouleh salad and 1 Tbsp reduced-fat (<10% fat) grated cheese. Plus 1 mandarin.
Dinner: 150g grilled white fish served on broad bean and potato mash (1/2 cup broad beans, 1/2 cup potato, 1 tsp olive oil and seasoning), with 1 medium corn on the cob and 1/2 of steamed carrots.
Snacks: Handful (approx 20) unsalted pistachio nuts. 200ml skim milk mocha. Water – aim to drink at least 1.5 liters daily.
Breakfast: Breakfast parfait — Layer 40g whole grain cereal, 1/2 cup drained peaches and 200g low-fat vanilla yogurt.
Lunch: 1 wholemeal/high fiber English muffin, topped with 20g extra light (<5%) cream cheese and 2 slices smoked salmon. 2 passion fruit mixed through 200g tub low-fat vanilla yogurt.
Dinner: Veal parmigiana (200g grilled veal leg steak topped with 1/4 cup tomato pasta sauce, 1/2 cup baby spinach and 50g light mozzarella shred). Serve with 1 cup cooked wholemeal pasta and 1/2 cup each of steamed Brussels sprouts and carrots.
Snacks: Pea hummus with rye crackers. Water – aim to drink at least 1.5 liters daily.
Breakfast: 1 slice mixed-grain toast, 1 tsp margarine, 1 grilled lean middle bacon rasher, 3/4 cup baked beans topped with 2 Tbsp reduced-fat cheddar cheese, plus 5 cherry tomatoes cooked in 1 tsp rice bran oil and garlic. Plus 2 rock melon slices.
Lunch: Potato, spinach, tomato and herb tortilla. 100g tub of 99% fat free frozen yogurt.
Dinner: Pork and vegetable stir fry (200g lean pork fillet, 1 tsp peanut oil, 2 tbsp Asian plum sauce, 1 cup bok-choy and 1/2 cup mushrooms). Serve with 1 cup cooked buckwheat noodles. Plus 1 medium size peach.
Snacks: 200ml skim milk hot chocolate (made with raw cocoa powder). Water, aim to drink at least 1.5 liters daily.